The days of talking computers being seen as futuristic sci-fi novelties are long gone. Smartphones, smart speakers, and other smart home technology allow users to talk to their tech – and get an almost human response. Why should this matter to you? Two words: voice search.
What Is Voice Search & Why Does It Matter?
Voice searches are exactly what they sound like – searches that are initiated by speaking to a smartphone, smart speaker, or voice-enabled smart home device in order to retrieve information online. It’s a hands-free way of finding directions to a local business, blasting your favorite tunes, or checking the latest news and weather forecast.
Not only is voice search convenient, but modern smartphones also come equipped with voice search functionality. So in a world with over 6 billion smartphone subscriptions and 270 million smartphone users in the US, it makes sense to build your website and your content in a way that is optimized for voice searches.
Voice search is one of the fastest-growing search methods.
Google reports that over 27% of the online population is using voice search on mobile. Google also shows that 60% of smartphones contact businesses directly using those search results.
Plus, Voicebot reports that 11.5% of smart speaker owners make purchases by voice monthly. This equals nearly 5.5 million US adults making purchases via their smart speaker on a regular basis! And yeah, you read that right: “smart speaker” – those are separate purchases from smartphone users.
How to Rock Voice Search SEO
So, how can you optimize your content for voice searches? It starts with understanding search engine optimization. But the way we type searches into a search engine is different than how we initiate a voice search.
For example, if you’re looking for a local Thai restaurant, you might type “Thai food near me” into Google. But your voice searches will likely be more complex and conversational – something along the lines of, “What are the best Thai restaurants in Orlando?”
Because of these differences, voice search SEO demands more context so search engines can unpack the semantics. Check out these ways to win at voice search SEO.
Optimize Local SEO
Local searches make up about 46% of total searches. To better increase your chances of getting discovered in local voice searches you should focus on enhancing your local SEO.
Create content that’s relevant to your business and your area. In blog posts, include information below the article’s conclusion that naturally weaves in the name of your city, local landmarks, and surrounding areas.
Place your company’s physical address in the footer and on the contact page. Add a map to your contact page! Make sure phone numbers and addresses are clickable throughout the site for ease of use.
Build citations on local search engines, directories, small business websites, or blogs. This will help boost your local search rank – and may even win you a few backlinks!
Voice searches on mobile are 3x more likely to be local-based than text searches. (Search Engine Watch)
Set Up Your Google My Business Listing
Another way to boost your local search rank is by properly setting up your Google My Business listing. It’s a fast, free way to tell search engines – and people – about your business! Always include your business name, contact number, address, and hours of operation. Your Google My Business listing will be a major advantage for winning top placement in local voice searches.
Create Conversational Content
Since today’s search rankings aim to deliver high-quality, relevant results, it’s best to be yourself and answer frequently asked questions in an authentic tone. Remember, when people use voice search to find a result, the query is typically more conversational.
Most voice search results that rank are written at a 9th grade level.
While your authentic self may be eloquent and verbose, both search engines and people like reading content that is written in a more relatable, straightforward way. Write simply and clearly for your audience.
Optimize Page Speed
While Google’s algorithm updates evolve with time, one thing stays constant: the goal of delivering the best possible experience to users. One foundational facet of what Google considers a “good experience” is a website that loads fast. If your website takes too long to load, Google will not index your site as a high-quality, high-authority site.
Use Structured Data
Let’s test something out. Do your own voice search by asking your voice-controlled device, “How many countries are there in the world?”
Your device had to pull this information from somewhere – so how do search engines know which piece of information to read?
Structured data is a code that delivers context to search engines. It’s a way to categorize the type of content that lives on a page so search crawlers can parse through a page and find exactly what you’re looking for.
Threading proper structured data throughout your content will help search crawlers know exactly what types of topics you address or questions you’re answering in your text – and will match it as a response to voice searches.
If you’re not sure what structured data is or how to test if your site has structured data, check out this article on schema markup and structured data.
Have a Mobile Website
Most voice searches are made on mobile devices. In order to show up in voice search results, you will need to deliver a great mobile experience. There are a few things you could do to improve your website’s UX, but if it’s outdated or not responsive, then it is time for a website redesign.
Final Word: Voice Search SEO
As voice-enabled technology becomes more advanced and readily available, the use of voice searches will continue to grow. Make sure your brand is set up to champion voice search results.
Next Horizon provides holistic technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize productivity. From digital marketing to building bespoke business applications, Next Horizon uses its 40+ years of experience and award-winning talent to provide technical business solutions for its clients.